Prof Ericka Noelle L'Abbé

Prof Ericka Noelle L'Abbé

South Africa

University of Pretoria


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Work and Research

Prof L'Abbe is a physical anthropologist at the University of Pretoria, a board certified forensic anthropologist with the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (D-ABFA, 84) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She is Director of the Forensic Anthropology Research Centre (FARC) and is a C-rated NRF researcher. FARC is involved in a variety of activities including the analysis of human remains, field and laboratory training, proficiency and diagnostic testing, and research into human variation among African populations. Research publications cover historic skeletal biology and forensic anthropology, with an emphasis on ancestry, sex and bone trauma.

Fields Of Expertise

Forensic Anthropology
Human variation
Forensic Anthropology Education

Research Profiles

Forensic Anthropology Research Centre

Established in 2008, the Forensic Anthropology Research Centre (FARC) at UP promotes research on human skeletal variation and educates postgraduate students; law enforcement; and the private sector. The FARC is equipped with facilities and staff to supervise postgraduates for BSc Honours, MSc, PhD and postdoctoral levels. Our research expertise is focused on the application of the biological profile, with particular emphasis on non-metric and metric methods for sex and ancestry, age at death in juveniles, the use of dentition in forensic applications, and bone trauma analysis. We provide yearly workshops on advanced statistical analysis using R in physical anthropology and bone trauma analysis. We focus on experienced-based postgraduate education which creates excellent researchers who can continue to advance the discipline in their own countries. Postgraduate students at our facilities are involved in research, working with a human rights team in Zimbabwe (Ukuthula Trust), conducting forensic case analysis South African Police Service (SAPS) and forensic pathologists, as well as teaching and learning. FARC encourages postgraduate student exchange in our collections, in our forensic labs, and in interactions with our South African students.

Most research is based on our large skeletal collection, the Pretoria Bone Collection (UP), which is one of three modern human collections in South Africa.  Initiated as an academic study resource in 1942 with the inception of the Medical School at UP, the collection has developed into a valuable source of research. The collection contains 1700 individuals and grows at a rate of 40 to 50 skeletons per year. Criteria for inclusion into the research collection is known demographic information (i.e. age, sex, and ancestry) and donation to the medical school. If too many skeletal elements are absent or damaged, the bones are incorporated into the student bone collection for training of medical and paramedical students. Unsolved forensic cases are accessioned into an evidentiary archive, and contain approximately 500 skeletons. Since 2000, more than 60 international and national students have used the Pretoria Bone collection and approximately 60 or more papers have been published. As the Pretoria Bone Collection grows into the 21st century, it continues to effect future anthropological research and the analysis of material considered to be of forensic origin. Our skeletal collections are the foundation for research and are needed for testing the reliability and precision of multiple techniques used in forensic practice. For further information on our skeletal collections, please contact the collections curator Ms. Gabi Kruger (